What influenced you to become what you are today? Was it someone you wanted to emulate as kid? Maybe a family member who you looked up too. Was it a celebrity, maybe an astronaut or a famous doctor, politician? For Mrs S she found inspiration a series of books; Cherry Ames Student Nurse. The books featured a student nurse who solved crimes in her spare time. Proving, and this was rare in books from the 40′s and 50′s, that empowered women could do anything they wanted.
This came to mind recently because I found a bunch of these books at a used book store in Saint Paul, and the find triggered a thought, what inspired me?
These books inspired more than a few girls, Mrs S included, to become nurses, and during the early years of the series, helped the war effort by recruiting nurses for the cause. I didn’t have such great direction in my childhood. While my bride to be was reading about Cherry, Super Sluth Nurse I was reading the Hardy Boys series. I didn’t realize it at the time but the Hardy Boys were a couple of xenophobic borderline racists and, we now know, they were closeted homosexuals.
Gasp. Not that it matters but it is kinda funny looking back. If you think about it, they didn’t really hang with their girl friends, they really like to hang out with Chet and Biff. Chet went to art camp in my favorite book, The Haunted Fort and Biff, as the Joe Hardy was fond of saying, had “muscles of steel”. Who knew. I think I probably had 20 or so of those books laying around the house when I was growing up, not sure where they landed. Mrs S has a few Cherry Ames books down in the basement, she got them from one of her Aunts, the same person who first exposed her to the candy striper with logical head for solving crimes adult men couldn’t. And while Mrs S has retired from the nursing profession lo these 18 years, she has maintained her interest in crime fighting, which she does today vicariously through her “stories”, her love of mysteries in film, TV and in print.
To the point that she’s not all that fun to watch a mystery with because she has it figured out way before I do.
I did have one role model, kinda, growing up. I thought my Dads brother was about the coolest guy around. Wonderful family man, cool house deep in the heart of Texas, great career as an anesthesiologist, well loved in the community, unfortunately I lacked a certain gumption when it came to the world of academia, especially when it came to math and science. Sort of an idiot savant without much savant. But I might have got the family part right, my kids seem to be doing ok.. then again that’s more their mother than I, I think they’ll remember me as a raging lunatic who liked to yell at them for thing not flushing the toilet.
I’m still looking for my inspiration, and at this point time is running out. At 50 I’d'a thunk I’d'a figga’d it out, apparently not. I have two books I’ve recently read that are inspiring on some level. Saul Bellows Henderson the Rain King. What’s better than an middle aged man, in his midlife crisis, his inner voice saying I want, I want, I want… who goes to Africa and clusterfucks his way through one village to another, eventually becoming an unwilling King of a tribe and winds up going home to get away from the responsibility, still wondering about fulfillment.
The other book I’ve found interesting of late, oddly enough, the Book of Samuel, I and II. Yeah I cracked a Bible, a readable translation of the Hebrew Bible from the Jewish Publication Society to read about David. Why? Because I recently overheard a discussion about David and his flaws, his strengths and his own personal midlife crisis, so I thought I’d check it out.
Very interesting. He kills a Philistine, and later lives among them to hide out from the king he will eventually ursurp. Sends a husband to his death in war so he can marry his wife, has one kid kill another and finally winds up with absolute power over his kingdom and yet, no control over his family or the course of events in his own life and is a miserable old dude.
David had the same nagging question if you ask me, I want, I want, I want and like Henderson, and a certain fat ass 50 year old, couldn’t answer it either. I guess angst is all part of the process of growing up and out.